Monday Mornings with Madison

The Halo Effect in Business and Brands, Part 1

Word Count: 1,568
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

How the Halo Effect Impacts Business and Brands

What is the Halo Effect?  Simply put, the Halo Effect is a mental bias people demonstrate that takes one trait of a person and generalizes it to the rest of the person’s characteristics.  First defined by U.S. psychologist Edward Thorndike nearly a century ago (1920), it describes a tendency that people have to reach specific conclusions about a person on the basis of a general impression or unrelated information.  For example, if a person is pleasing (cheerful and good natured), then it is assumed the person’s other attributes — about which is known little or nothing — are also favorable.  A nice person might be assumed to be hard working, loyal and trustworthy.  Politicians capitalize on this predisposition by appearing warm, friendly and likeable in public even though they might say little or nothing about their position on the issues. Continue reading

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Prepared to Do the Job

Word Count: 1,591
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

To Train or Not to Train, That is the Question

Is staff training necessary?  The short answer is yes.  Training is necessary, in part, because every company does things a little differently.  It is not enough for a new employee to have the skills for a job.  They must also know how to apply those skills to a particular job at a particular company.  A business might hire a person with a degree in accounting, but that person would still need to learn not only how to apply those accounting skills to that position (such as accounting for an eCommerce company vs. accounting for a university), but also how that particular company wants things to be done using their systems and processes.  For most new hires, that type of onboarding training is necessary.  If it is done poorly, employees fumble and stumble making the learning curve longer and more painful.  It can even contribute to turnover in cases where new hires never quite find their footing. Continue reading

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Workplace Communication– Part 2

Word Count: 1,520
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Part 2 – Talking the Talk, and then Walking the Walk

There is a lot of talking done at work.  But all talk is not created equal.   Some of it consists of pleasantries and personal chit chat, which is normal among coworkers and helps with bonding and rapport (within limits). Some talk is comprised of actual work conversations that can drag on and be unclear or wholly unproductive.  And then there is the kind of talk that helps communicate the vision, formulate the plans, flesh out details of how, when, where and by whom work will be done, and solve the problems that arise in business. Indeed, some conversations are critical for success.  Some should be limited.  And some should not happen at all.  So how does a manager determine which chats are nothing more than idle gossip and pointless blather, which are work-related but are an unfocused waste of time, and which conversations are highly beneficial to the organization and get everyone working on productive tasks?  It begins by recognizing the kinds of workplace conversations that happen and how to deal with each.

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Workplace Communication– Part 1

Word Count: 1,316
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Part 1: Looks Who’s Talking

Communication abounds in business.  It is needed for effective teamwork, sharing of ideas, collaboration across departments and between levels of leadership, interaction with clients and vendors, hiring and training of staff, and much more.   Some of it is written, but most of it is verbal.  But there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to talking at work.  Everyone knows there are productive conversations, there are pointless meetings, and then there is idle blather.  For work to get done, people must communicate on the work at hand.  Often, though, business conversations digress into rants and yammering that is a waste of time.   There is a point where repetitive and rehashed discussions and personal chit chat waste time.  There is moment when the talk should stop and work should start (unless, of course, the job involves talking, such as teaching, phone sales, customer service, etc.)   The truth is that most jobs require some time spent talking and the rest of the time doing other tasks related the job.  Developing code.  Designing blueprints.  Balancing spreadsheets.  Analyzing data.  Writing content.  Setting up digital campaigns.  Processing payments.  Etc.  And, in most jobs, when talk exceeds action, it undercuts productivity and eats into profits. Continue reading

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Broken Promises: When a Brand Fails to Deliver on its Commitments

Word Count: 1,437
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Businesses make promises to its customers.  A brand promise spells out what customers can expect from the organization’s product or services.  Those promises are communicated verbally and in writing in a multitude of ways every day.  For example, a company’s website or app lists details about the products or services.  Marketing materials such as flyers, brochures and ads tout visually and in writing what is special about the company’s offers.  Employees talk up the organization’s purpose.  Signs scream the business’ intent.  The mission statement communicates the company’s promises.  So do corporate filings for publicly-traded entities.  And Contracts and Sales Agreements spell out in legally-binding detail the particulars of the brand’s commitment. Continue reading

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Analysis Paralysis: When Decision-Making Gets Stuck and How to Get Unstuck

Word Count: 1,656
Estimated Read Time: 6 1/2 min.

When Decision-Making Gets Stuck

The average person makes a lot of decisions daily.  Researchers Barbara Sahakian and Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta estimated that an adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day, while a child makes about 3,000.[1] This may seem impossible since that is about 24 decisions per minute or one decision every two to three seconds.  But most of those are ‘remotely conscious’ decisions.  That means we do them on mental auto-pilot and most are not that important.  For instance, Brian Wansink and Jeffery Sobal, researchers at Cornell University, found that the average person makes 226.7 decisions every day just on food.[2] Food decisions are made with little intentional thought and have little or no consequence.  The same is true for lots of other decisions.  What to wear.  What time to go to bed.   We scarcely think of these small choices as “decisions.”  But, mixed in with the myriad of tiny assessments we are constantly making are important decisions as well.  And, the higher a person’s position at work, the greater the quantity and consequence of those decisions.  As the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Continue reading

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Why Resolutions Fail 90% of the Time, Part 2

Did you make any resolutions for 2019?  Most likely. LinkedIn’s feed has been full of posts of folks sharing their big professional goals for the year ahead.  Most resolutions run the gamut from personal ones like losing weight and becoming fit to professional ones such as increasing focus and improving time management.  Everyone has things they wish they could do better and that’s a good thing.  After all, we should each be a work in progress in every area of life.  So, it’s important to create goals and work diligently to achieve them. Continue reading

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Why Resolutions Fail 90% of the Time, Part 1

Word Count: 1,964
Estimated Read Time: 8 min.

To err is human, and so is to want a ‘do-over’.  When we fall short of the mark we set for ourselves (or that others might have set for us), we long for a fresh start… a second chance to get it right.  This is also an inherent part of human nature.  For many, a second (or third or fourth) chance can finally mean achieving a long-sought, ever-elusive goal.  For someone, it might be to finally quit smoking.  For someone else, it might be to get off the couch and be able to run a 5K.  For another, it might be to finally get a promotion or raise.  For the reserved person, it might be to break out of that introverted shell and start engaging on social media.  For someone who is always missing deadlines, it might mean better time management.  For an introverted person, it might be to be able to speak in public with confidence.  Whatever the goal, this time of year prompts people to resolve to do better.  Hence the term “Resolutions.” Continue reading

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When Failure Is and Is Not Okay

Failure due to Innovation vs. Incompetence

Everyone gets it wrong at least once in a while.  That is why they put erasers on pencils.  There are judgment calls that don’t pan out.   There are ideas that seem good in theory but falter during execution.  There are new processes and programs that ultimately don’t work.  For scientists and inventors, getting it “wrong” is an inevitable part of the job.  It’s called trial and error, and that is how discoveries are made and innovations achieved.  With a higher number of trials, you get more successes but also more failures.  But then there are also times when something doesn’t work because of a plain mistake made.  Two plus two does not equal five.   It happens.  To err, after all, is human. Continue reading

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The Highest and Best Use of Your Team, Part 2

Word Count: 1,496
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

The best leaders, managers and entrepreneurs know that a company’s success depends on getting maximum performance from employees.   According to Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO and chairperson of Xerox and Chief Executive Magazine’s “CEO of the Year” in 2008, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral their growth, performance soars.  So how does that happen? Continue reading

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